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Not long after we got married, Jesse and I vowed to take a trip each year. It is kind of an anniversary present to ourselves. We had done lots of overnight or long weekend road trips, but we wanted to get a little more further afield.
We spent one long weekend in the Black Hills of South Dakota and ventured up the Superior coast to Duluth. The year after that we jumped in with both feet when Jesse tagged along on a work trip to Arizona. Then a few months later we hopped a plain to California.
An expert traveler I am not, there are whole blogs written by those people. But I am practical and I like to plan. I have learned a few things that make trip prep and the trip itself run smooth. Or as smooth as any trip can.
Rethink the amount of clothing that you bring.
This one is hard. Especially for all of the planners out there, like myself, who think through every type of contingency and weather pattern. But let’s be real here for a minute. You know damn well that you don’t need 5 shirts for an overnight trip. Or that cute dress when you are camping.
I am not going to tell you what to bring, but check the weather of your destination and think, practically, about what you will wear on this trip. I know that I will keep grabbing for those awesome pair of skinny jeans that have a bit of stretch and I will wear yoga pants on the long days in the car. So I really just need to pack them, with some t-shirts, a hoodie and I am all set.
Keep in mind that you can wash clothes while you are gone. I bring along one of these on all trips, just in case.
Keep your toiletry bag stocked.
While prepping for the work trip to Arizona, I stocked up on all of the essential in 3 oz or less packaging and since most of the items came in multi-packs I kept all of the extras in a large bin in our closet. When we returned home of the trip, I wiped down any spills on the bottles, ran our soap container through the dishwasher and packed everything back up in the clear plastic bags and put everything in the bin.
When I am starting to pack for another trip. I can pull the bags out and they are ready to go. There is no searching around for a little shampoo and toothpaste container. It is one thing from the pre-trip checklist that I don’t have to worry about.
Have spare power cords for all of the things.
I have a cord for every electronic we bring on a trip in a bag, ready to go. In a little pouch that goes in my carry on I have a cord for both our phones and my laptop. I also have at least two pairs of headphones and a rechargeable battery pack.
This is the only way I make sure that we have all of the cords before we leave. There is not climbing behind the nightstand to unplug a charger, or buying a cord at a kiosk in the terminal.
The key is to make sure they all get back in the bag when you get back from your last trip.
Get yourself some nice luggage or duffels.
Before we went on that Arizona trip I did some research (lots and lots of research) and bought Jesse and I each a convertible bag that is carry on size. Jesse has the eBags Mother Lode Weekender and I have the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45.
They are both amazing.
The hold everything we need for a 5-day trip (probably longer too, we just haven’t tried it yet). The fit in all overhead bins (and probably under the seat) of planes. The even fit in the overheads of those little regional gets that we end up on for the last leg of our flights.
My favorite part is the back pocket that holds straps that can be clipped in place to use the bag as a backpack. When we are moving through the airport, we wear them as backpacks can easily move through even super crowded airports. Then when we get to our gate, we unclip the straps and slide them back in the pockets and then the bags slide into the overhead bins like a dream.
These bags (especially mine) was not cheap. But they have gone through security, shoved in overhead bins, thrown in the corner of AirBnBs, and used as both footrest and pillows in airports. And they still look as good as the day they came out of the box.
Travel is stressful, but it is supposed to be fun. Right?! When you keep your clothing to the basics, keep your toiletries and power cords stocked and invest in some nice gear these will be fewer things for you to stress about.
You read my tips, what are ours?
PS. When we are doing a road trip, staying somewhere overnight, or going camping throw all of our clothes in a weekender bag. I don’t take the time to pack everything in pouches, but I still use our toiletry and cord bags. I got my second hand a few years ago, but this one is similar.